The Parable and the mashal


Texts, including the numbering are taken from The Gospels and Rabbinic Judaism: A Study Guide by Rabbi Michael Hilton with Gordian Marshall OP

Text 12. Sifra on Leviticus 26.9

“For I shall turn unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and confirm my covenant with you.” They told a parable: what is the matter like? To a king who hired many workers. Now there was among them one worker who worked for him for many days. The workers went in to receive their pay, and this worker went in with them. Said the king to this worker,
“My son, I shall turn to you. These many workers, who did less work for me, I shall give them a smaller reward. But I intend to count up for you a large sum.”
In the same way, Israel in this world were seeking their reward before God. And the nations of the world were also seeking their reward before God. And God says to Israel, “My children, I shall turn to you. These nations of the world have done less work for me, and I shall give them a lesser reward. But for you I intend to count up a large sum.” And that is why it is said “I shall turn unto you”…

Text 16. Matthew 20: 1 – 16

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the labourers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the labourers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong: did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Text 17. From Palestinian Talmud, Berakhot 2: 8

When Rabbi Bun son of Hiyya died, Rabbi Zeira went forward and gave the funeral oration for him, [quoting]: (Ecclesiastes 5: 11) “Sweet is the sleep of the labourer”. It is not written here: whether he slept [little or much], but: whether he ate little or much! With whom is Rabbi Bun son of Hiyya to be compared? With a king who hired several labourers. Among them was one labourer who was particularly zealous. What did the king do? He took this [labourer] for walks, long and short. In the evening the labourers came to receive their pay, and the king gave this [labourer] the full [day’s] pay just as he gave the others. At that the labourers grumbled and said: We have worked hard the whole day, and he worked only two hours and [still] received the same pay as we [did]. To that the king rejoined: This [labourer] has achieved more in two hours than you with your hard work throughout the whole day. So Rabbi Bun has achieved more in 28 years in respect to the study of Torah than another proven scholar could have learned in a hundred years. …..

When Rabbi Levi the son of Sisi died, the father of Shemuel went forward, and gave the funeral oration for him, [quoting]: (Ecclesiastes 12: 13) “the end of the matter: everything has been heard: fear God”. To whom may Rabbi Levi the son of Sisi be compared? To a king who had a vineyard, and he had in it a hundred vines, and they would produce every single year a hundred jugs of wine. It came down to fifty [vines]: it came down to forty: it came down to thirty: it came down to twenty: it came down to ten: it came down to one – but it produced a hundred jugs of wine, and that one vine was as dear to him as the whole vineyard had been. In the same way Rabbi Levi the son of Sisi was as dear to the Holy One, Blessed be He, as all mankind.

Text 18. Matthew 25. 1 – 13

1 Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Text 19. Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 153 A

We learned there: Rabbi Eliezer says, Repent one day before your death. His students asked him: How does someone know on what day he will die? He said to them, All the more, then, let him repent today, for perhaps he may die tomorrow, and, therefore he will spend every day repenting. And so King Solomon said in his wisdom, “Let your garments be always white; and let not oil be lacking on your head.” (Ecclesiastes 9: 8). Said Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, This can be compared to a king who invited his servants to a banquet, but did not fix a time. The prudent ones among them adorned themselves and sat at the door of the palace, for they said ‘Is anything lacking in a royal palace?’ The fools among them went to work, for they said ‘Can there be a banquet without preparations?’ Suddenly the king summoned his servants: The prudent ones went in adorned, but the foolish ones went in soiled. The king rejoiced at the prudent, but was angry with the fools. He said,
“Let those who adorned themselves for the banquet sit and eat and drink, but those who did not adorn themselves for the banquet are to stand and watch.”

HEBREW TEXT 12 Sifra on Leviticus 26: 9

ופניתי אליכם– משלו משל למה הדבר דומה: למלך ששכר פועלים הרבה והיה שם פועל אחד ועשה עמו מלאכה ימים הרבה. נכנסו הפועלים ליטול שכרם ונכנס אותו הפועל עמהם. אמר לו המלך לאותו הפועל “בני, אפנה לך! הרובים הללו שעשו עמי מלאכה מועטת ואני נותן להם שכר מועט; אבל אתה — חשבון רב אני עתיד לחשוב עמך!”. כך היו ישראל בעולם הזה מבקשים שכרם מלפני המקום ואומות העולם מבקשים שכרם מלפני המקום, והמקום אומר להם לישראל “בני, אפנה לכם! אומות העולם הללו עשו עמי מלאכה מועטת ואני נותן להם שכר מועט; אבל אתם — חשבון רב אני עתיד לחשב עמכם!”. לכך נאמר– ופניתי אליכם”.

GREEK – Text 16. Matthew 20: 1 – 16

1 Ὁμοία γάρ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ἀνθρώπῳ οἰκοδεσπότῃ ὅστις ἐξῆλθεν ἅμα πρωῒ μισθώσασθαι ἐργάτας εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ.
2 συμφωνήσας δὲ ⸃ μετὰ τῶν ἐργατῶν ἐκ δηναρίου τὴν ἡμέραν ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα αὐτοῦ.
3 καὶ ἐξελθὼν περὶ τρίτην ὥραν εἶδεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ ἀργούς ·
4 καὶ ἐκείνοις εἶπεν · Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον δώσω ὑμῖν ·
5 οἱ δὲ ἀπῆλθον. πάλιν ἐξελθὼν περὶ ἕκτην καὶ ἐνάτην ὥραν ἐποίησεν ὡσαύτως.
6 περὶ δὲ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην ἐξελθὼν εὗρεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς · Τί ὧδε ἑστήκατε ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἀργοί;
7 λέγουσιν αὐτῷ · Ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἡμᾶς ἐμισθώσατο. λέγει αὐτοῖς · Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα.
8 ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης λέγει ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος τῷ ἐπιτρόπῳ αὐτοῦ · Κάλεσον τοὺς ἐργάτας καὶ ἀπόδος αὐτοῖς τὸν μισθὸν ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἕως τῶν πρώτων.
9 καὶ ἐλθόντες ⸃ οἱ περὶ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην ὥραν ἔλαβον ἀνὰ δηνάριον.
10 καὶ ἐλθόντες ⸃ οἱ πρῶτοι ἐνόμισαν ὅτι πλεῖον λήμψονται · καὶ ἔλαβον τὸ ἀνὰ δηνάριον καὶ αὐτοί.
11 λαβόντες δὲ ἐγόγγυζον κατὰ τοῦ οἰκοδεσπότου
12 λέγοντες · Οὗτοι οἱ ἔσχατοι μίαν ὥραν ἐποίησαν, καὶ ἴσους αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν ⸃ ἐποίησας τοῖς βαστάσασι τὸ βάρος τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ τὸν καύσωνα.
13 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς ἑνὶ αὐτῶν εἶπεν ⸃· Ἑταῖρε, οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε · οὐχὶ δηναρίου συνεφώνησάς μοι;
14 ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε · θέλω δὲ τούτῳ τῷ ἐσχάτῳ δοῦναι ὡς καὶ σοί ·
15 οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι ⸃ ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς; ἢ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι;
16 οὕτως ἔσονται οἱ ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι καὶ οἱ πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι.

HEBREW/ARAMAIC TEXT 17 Palestinian Talmud, Berakhot 2:8 (20a)

כד דמך ר’ בון בר ר’ חייא על ר’ זעירא ואפטר עילוי “מתוקה שנת העובד” (קוהלת ה) ישן אין כתיב כאן אלא אם מעט אם הרבה יאכל
למה היה רבי בון בר’ חייא דומה למלך ששכר פועלים הרבה והיה שם פועל אחד והיה משתכר במלאכתו יותר מדאי מה עשה המלך נטלו והי מטייל עמו ארוכות
וקצרות. לעיתותי ערב באו אותם פועלים ליטול שכרן ונתן לו שכרו עמהן
משלם. והיו הפועלים מתרעמין ואומרים אנו יגענו כל היום וזה לא יגע אלא
שתי שעות ונתן לו שכרו עמנו משלם.
אמר להן המלך יגע זה לשתי שעות יותר ממה שלא יגעתם אתם כל היום כולו. כך יגע רבי בון בתורה לעשרים ושמונה שנה מה שאין תלמיד וותיק יכול ללמוד למאה שנה
כד דמך ר’ לוי בר סיסי על אבוי דשמואל ואפטר עילוי “סוף דבר הכל נשמע את האלהים ירא” (קוהלת יב).למה היה לוי בן סיסי דומה למלך שהיה לו כרם והיה בו מאה גפנים והיו עושות כל שנה ושנה מאה חביות של יין עמד על חמשים עמד על ארבעים עמד על שלשים עמד על עשרים עמד על עשר עמד על אחד והיה עושה מאה חביות של יין והיה אותו הגפן חביב עליו ככל הכרם כולו כך היה רבי לוי בר סיסי חביב לפני הקב”ה ככל אדם.

“בכל עת יהיו בגדיך לבנים ושמן על ראשך אל יחסר” (קוהלת ט).
אמר רבי יוחנן בן זכאי משל למלך שזימן את עבדיו לסעודה ולא קבע להם זמן פיקחין שבהן קישטו את עצמן וישבו על פתח בית המלך אמרו כלום חסר לבית המלך טיפשין שבהן הלכו למלאכתן אמרו כלום יש סעודה בלא טורח
בפתאום ביקש המלך את עבדיו פיקחין שבהן נכנסו לפניו כשהן מקושטין והטיפשים נכנסו לפניו כשהן מלוכלכין שמח המלך לקראת פיקחים וכעס לקראת טיפשים אמר הללו שקישטו את עצמן לסעודה ישבו ויאכלו וישתו הללו שלא קישטו עצמן לסעודה יעמדו ויראו.

GREEK – Text 18: Matthew 25: 1 – 13

1 Τότε ὁμοιωθήσεται ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν δέκα παρθένοις, αἵτινες λαβοῦσαι τὰς λαμπάδας ἑαυτῶν ἐξῆλθον εἰς ὑπάντησιν τοῦ νυμφίου.
2 πέντε δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἦσαν ⸃ μωραὶ καὶ πέντε φρόνιμοι.
3 αἱ γὰρ ⸃ μωραὶ λαβοῦσαι τὰς λαμπάδας αὐτῶν οὐκ ἔλαβον μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν ἔλαιον ·
4 αἱ δὲ φρόνιμοι ἔλαβον ἔλαιον ἐν τοῖς ἀγγείοις μετὰ τῶν λαμπάδων ἑαυτῶν.
5 χρονίζοντος δὲ τοῦ νυμφίου ἐνύσταξαν πᾶσαι καὶ ἐκάθευδον.
6 μέσης δὲ νυκτὸς κραυγὴ γέγονεν · Ἰδοὺ ὁ νυμφίος, ἐξέρχεσθε εἰς ἀπάντησιν αὐτοῦ.
7 τότε ἠγέρθησαν πᾶσαι αἱ παρθένοι ἐκεῖναι καὶ ἐκόσμησαν τὰς λαμπάδας ἑαυτῶν.
8 αἱ δὲ μωραὶ ταῖς φρονίμοις εἶπαν · Δότε ἡμῖν ἐκ τοῦ ἐλαίου ὑμῶν, ὅτι αἱ λαμπάδες ἡμῶν σβέννυνται.
9 ἀπεκρίθησαν δὲ αἱ φρόνιμοι λέγουσαι · Μήποτε οὐ μὴ ⸃ ἀρκέσῃ ἡμῖν καὶ ὑμῖν · πορεύεσθε μᾶλλον πρὸς τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ ἀγοράσατε ἑαυταῖς.
10 ἀπερχομένων δὲ αὐτῶν ἀγοράσαι ἦλθεν ὁ νυμφίος, καὶ αἱ ἕτοιμοι εἰσῆλθον μετ’ αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς γάμους, καὶ ἐκλείσθη ἡ θύρα.
11 ὕστερον δὲ ἔρχονται καὶ αἱ λοιπαὶ παρθένοι λέγουσαι · Κύριε κύριε, ἄνοιξον ἡμῖν ·
12 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν · Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς.
13 γρηγορεῖτε οὖν, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδατε τὴν ἡμέραν οὐδὲ τὴν ὥραν.

HEBREW/ARAMAIC Text 19. Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 153 A

תְּנַן הָתָם, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר: שׁוּב יוֹם אֶחָד לִפְנֵי מִיתָתֶךָ. שָׁאֲלוּ תַּלְמִידָיו אֶת רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר: וְכִי אָדָם יוֹדֵעַ אֵיזֶהוּ יוֹם יָמוּת? אָמַר לָהֶן: וְכׇל שֶׁכֵּן, יָשׁוּב הַיּוֹם, שֶׁמָּא יָמוּת לְמָחָר, וְנִמְצָא כׇּל יָמָיו בִּתְשׁוּבָה. וְאַף שְׁלֹמֹה אָמַר בְּחׇכְמָתוֹ: “בְּכׇל עֵת יִהְיוּ בְגָדֶיךָ לְבָנִים וְשֶׁמֶן עַל רֹאשְׁךָ אַל יֶחְסָר”.אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי: מָשָׁל לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁזִּימֵּן אֶת עֲבָדָיו לִסְעוּדָה, וְלֹא קָבַע לָהֶם זְמַן. פִּיקְחִין שֶׁבָּהֶן קִישְּׁטוּ אֶת עַצְמָן וְיָשְׁבוּ עַל פֶּתַח בֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ, אָמְרוּ: כְּלוּם חָסֵר לְבֵית הַמֶּלֶךְ? טִיפְּשִׁין שֶׁבָּהֶן הָלְכוּ לִמְלַאכְתָּן, אָמְרוּ: כְּלוּם יֵשׁ סְעוּדָה בְּלֹא טוֹרַח?פִּתְאוֹם בִּיקֵּשׁ הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת עֲבָדָיו. פִּיקְחִין שֶׁבָּהֶן נִכְנְסוּ לְפָנָיו כְּשֶׁהֵן מְקוּשָּׁטִין, וְהַטִּיפְּשִׁים נִכְנְסוּ לְפָנָיו כְּשֶׁהֵן מְלוּכְלָכִין. שָׂמַח הַמֶּלֶךְ לִקְרַאת פִּיקְחִים וְכָעַס לִקְרַאת טִיפְּשִׁים. אָמַר: הַלָּלוּ שֶׁקִּישְּׁטוּ אֶת עַצְמָן לַסְּעוּדָה – יֵשְׁבוּ וְיֹאכְלוּ וְיִשְׁתּוּ, הַלָּלוּ שֶׁלֹּא קִישְּׁטוּ עַצְמָן לַסְּעוּדָה – יַעַמְדוּ וְיִרְאוּ.